The Korea Polo Federation (KPF) is changing perceptions and popularity of polo in South Korea. Founded in August 2022, KPF is based out of Korea’s only polo facility, the world-class Korea Polo Club (KPC). Located on the volcanic Jeju Island, affectionately referred to as the Hawaii of Korea, the club boasts a luxurious clubhouse with guest accommodations, 75 Argentine polo ponies, three state-of-the-art stables, a regulation Battro field, practice field and exercise track. Since its inauguration six months ago, KPF has focused on supporting young, up-and-coming Korean players as well as welcoming new potential players to the sport.
KPF currently consists of 50 Gen-X entrepreneurs that have experience in leading successful businesses in Korea and abroad. The first Chairman, Steve Joonhee Joh, is actively engaged in business and government activities in Korea. He is the CEO of URACLE (a software and mobile app development platform), on the Presidential Advisory Council of Science & Technology, and is also the Chairman of the Korea Software Industry Association.
The Vice-Presidents are: Travis Hochan Kang of NEXEN TIRE, a Manchester City sponsor; Sung Kyun Na of NEOWIZ Holdings, a world-class IT company; James Byungjoon Song of COM2US, an online game development company; Eric Sangyub Sung of Intellian Technologies; and David Young Ko of ACE Equity Partners and owner of Korea Polo Club. The regional presidents and executives are composed of young, dynamic Korean entrepreneurs.
With a focused fundraising strategy, KPF plans to foster young players and support youth polo teams. Enthusiasm towards the program is already being realized in the form of 50 new player registrations. Most notably, fifteen middle school students are taking regular polo lessons and are practicing for their first official game in Spring of 2023. KPF will proudly sponsor university polo in Korea, including a team representing the Jeju National University. In addition to student polo, KPF is working towards the development of a Business Polo Team that will travel internationally.
International exposure is essential to the development of Korean polo. In 2022, the club hosted teams from Indonesia, France, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cambridge and Oxford. By providing a world-class facility, KPF is able to entice teams from around the world for training and competition opportunities.
Top members of the KPF board went to Argentina in December to watch the Argentine Open at Palermo, meet with the AAP and FIP, and visit various high goal operations including Dubai in Cañuelas, kindly hosted by Ali Albwardy. The new year’s travels began in Bangkok, Thailand where 15 members and children took part in a week-long intensive training camp at King Power and the Federation met with the Thai Polo Association president, Kanoksakdi Bhinsaeng. Looking forward, visits are planned to Dubai, UAE; Manila, The Philippines; and Wellington, Florida, USA.